Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Leonie's risotto!!!

Oh my gosh its been weeks... this cookbook will be looking empty at the end of the year if I do NOT get my act together. It has been a crazy busy time over the last month... report cards, end of term commitments, kids, colds, flu's.... the list seriously has been endless. Currently I am sitting on the gold coast, enjoying a wonderful break from the bleak cold winter of where we currently live. Great company, great food and lots and lots of laughs...

Now onto the food.... This school term has been so busy meals have been quick, easy and warming...My goal for the following term is to meal plan, try new things, and save some money our groceries are getting out of hand.... Starting the new term with a weekly meal planning challenge, would love to start a link for people to join me in this..... (I have one week to get it all in order!) I will be blogging about food and money saved....sounds exciting hey!!! My life is a crazy exciting one!

This has been a weekly standby dinner at our house, and never does it taste the same or look the same! This is one of my favourite things to eat and cook... I know I can have this on the table in half hour, our bellies warm and full.

This is a standard for us, I change the ingredients depending what is seasonal and in the fridge...

500g organic chicken thighs
100g diced pancetta
diced red onion
2 garlic cloves
1 cup aborio rice
500ml good chicken stock
bunch of broccolini
dash of white wine
rind of half a lemon ( I use a micro plane)
olive oil

fry off  olive oil, onion, garlic, and pancetta, just until the onion is see through not caramelised. add in the rice and lemon rind give pan a good stir. add the dash of wine... now I do NOT measure this I am normally ready for an after 5 glass so add a dash from the bottle. allow the alcohol to bubble off add the stock, and brocolini. Put on a tight fitting lid and place in an oven for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and add 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan.

seriously its GOOD!!! now I love to stand and stir a risotto but I just do not have the time so this method has become a standard. It works and even Donna Hay uses it...

My favourite bit is ONE PAN!!!! I hate washing up! so I love that for a family of five there are only 5 dishes to do!!! win win in my world! I will add varieties to this over time.

Happy cooking!

Leonie xx

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Donna's one pot pan puff cake!!!!!

OMG this is the most dramatic thing to watch cook, we all love to watch the amazing growing of the puff cake..... this is the perfect Saturday night dessert, a fun easy breaky, or for me the mummy loves you after a shitty day at sport tummy warmer......

Now let me preface to say that today has been tough in this house hold but not tough enough that we cannot all snuggle, cook, eat, and love on each other that the world can be a better place.... seriously it works like magic!!!!

what you need:

 a non-stick fry pan that can go into the oven... I have a kitchen aide brand ones and they are possibly the bestest pans ever and not that expensive... its stock take time people go shopping...I got mine at David Jones this time of year... cheap as chips!I know you can get them at matchbox kitchenware shops too, but seriously just go SHOPPING!!!! (Mel and Nat you need to check the handle can go into the oven!!! xx)

ok onto the other serious stuff like ingredients....

1/2 cup plain four
2 eggs
tbs vanilla extract (you could use essence but seriously DO NOT...... extract is the way to go for everything!!!!)
2 TBS caster sugar
1/2 cup of milk
30g butter

seriously this is sooooo easy!!!!

heat your oven to 180, putting your fry pan in the oven to warm...

while that is warming up in a small bowl place all ingredients except the butter and whisk together to a smooth batter.

remove the pan from oven... place  a tea towel over the handle and leave there.... (seriously I know that most people would think of that but I know a couple of readers personally and seriously they need this tip in bold!!! love you xx)

place butter in pan and coat the pan in the butter (use real butter Lurpak is a fav of mine....)

pour the batter in the pan and place the pan into the oven...

Now watch the magic... seriously very cool.....

after 25 minutes,,,, remove from the oven....

slip out onto a board and serve with berries, ice cream, maple syrup what ever takes your fancy.... it seriously is like a Yorkshire pud.,.... but sweet divine goodness... a perfect late night snack too.....

no berries here today, but maple syrup and Maggie Beers vanilla bean and elderflower ice cream was YUM YUM YUM!!!!
honestly try it....

happy cooking

Leonie xx

Sunday, June 3, 2012

pizza scrolls for hungry cold bodies!

I have to confess I have not made these for yonks! yep you read that right YONKS!!! When I was a tired mum of 2 little people bored with the everyday sandwhich choice of peanut butter, vegemite or jam I would make these... I really think they were one of the first things I cooked with the boys. They were eaten and loved by us all.... now the fillings can vary of course sometimes because of a 'compulsory Pj day' the filling would simply be pizza sauce and cheese, or at times it could be left over roast veges... particularly capsicum, zucchini and egplant YUM... but in all honesty the usual 'go to' toppings are good old ham and pineapple... you just can't beat it. seriously....

Now the weather here is miserable today, overcast, rainy, and not to forget bloody FREEZING!!!! so I thought these would make the perfect tummy warmers for a post freezing footy match.,.... and I was RIGHT... they have gone down a treat!

Now for the recipe I guess...

2 cups Self raising flour
40g butter ( I had not taken mine out of the fridge so I grate it so I can use it right away!!)
3/4 cup milk

rub the butter into flour tile you get bread crumb like consistency, add milk and combine, remove from bowl and knead on a floured bench topuntil smooth and elastic.... not too much! the roll dough until about 2cm thick... try with all your might to get a rectangle, I am a complete failure with this so I just go with whatever happens!
 squirt pizza topping on top of base spread liberally with the back of a spoon... the more the better for us, top with ingredients.

Starting with one side roll your pizza up, you will find some falls out.. my kids like to eat these bits at the end! now once you have a nice firm roll, slice it into 1.5 cm slices and place on baking paper in baking dish. Smoosh them all together as tightly as you can and bake in an oven at 180 for 1/2 hour....

I promise you will not be disappointed!Neither will the little or big people in your life!

Happy cooking

Leonie xx

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The perfect Sunday roast CHOOK!!!! seriously just flippin perfect!

Now this chicken has been around for a long time... I think many of my friends have eaten it... its good, safe, and never ever fails to inpress! it is divine!!!!
Seriously lok bloody good hey!

Now the ingredients are easy to find, it cooks on low in a slow oven 150.... for up to 3 hours.... its a one pot pleaser!

One free range chook
half dozen french eshallots
2 heads garlic cut in half
thyme, rosemary, any herbs you have!
1 lemon, rind removed and cut in half
salt and pepper
10 small potatoes, halved
olive oil
chicken stock and a 1/4 cup white wine.... (seriously there is a theme here... wine, cooking and me!!!)

place a good cast iron pot (you will need a roaster with a lid, you could bung it all in a casserole dish lid on if thats all you have), place eshallots and garlic around base of the pan. Add the clean and dried chook, up the chooks butt place half head of garlic, the lemon halves and half the bunch of herbs. Place the chook in the middle of garlic and shallots. place the potatoes around chook. pour wine and stock around and over potatoes. grind salt and pepper over the chook and drizzle with a little olive oil, pop the lid on and bake for 1 1/2 hours, then remove lid and bake for a futher 45 mins....Now I somethimes start the cooking on the stove top, heating the pan add the ingredients then bunging into the oven.... but depends on my mood and time restraints.

This chook smells divine after about 1/2 hour and takes a great amount of will power to resist until the end of time.....

Once the chook is done, remove and rest, at this time I also remove the veges. I squash the garlic out of their skins and place on a medium heat and reduce the liquid down to make a saucy gravy that I honestly could dive into and drink!!!OMG!!! the roasted garlic would have to be one of my favs!

so any way there you have it my super YUM and super easy and impressive roast chook!!!

happy cooking

Leonie xx

Monday, May 21, 2012

my artichoke dip

This is an all time favourite to serve for friends on a cold wintry dinner.... its super easy, can be made well ahead of time and is so damn addictive I dare anyone to stop and one dip..... seriously even if you don't like artichokes you will love this.... I have tricked many the vege hater....

1 tin Artichoke in brine
3 cloves garlic
1 cup of whole egg mayonnaise
1 cup Parmesan(I cheat with this one and usually buy the already grated)

In your processor whizz up the artichokes and garlic,  add the mayo and cheese give it another whirl, then seriously that my friends is it....

Now all you have to do is put it in a cute little pot, bake in the oven at 180 for around 20 mins until its bubbly and warm through.... I serve mine with some crostini, sliced sour dough, anything goes really, its is honestly GOOD!!!

Now when I am usually serving this baby there is normally copious amounts of wine on hand, great friends and lots and lots of laughs.... the best kind of food usually does!

happy cooking

Leonie xx

oh should mention if you have some that does not fit into your cute little container, it is great on some freshly toasted  and buttered (I have a love for lurpak... danish butter OMG heaven!) sour dough, or even tossed through some pasta for a quick and different lunch....

I think you could change this to suit a cob like dip.... add a few more ingredients such as pancetta, baby spinach, sun dried tomatoes... anything would work really, only limit is your pantry.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

best potato and leek soup EVER!!!

Oh my I have never made this soup which is odd as potatoes are my absolute favourite food group, you know fried, boiled mashed... you get it... surely I am not alone in this love affair... Well over the last few years we have eaten less and less of these divine little beauties... but today I seemed to have an abundance of them, some lovely leeks, onions, garlic.... well it called for SOUP... oh the chilly season also helped.

now this was super easy and super super yum....

2 cloves garlic
knob butter
2 leeks, sliced in half length ways the chopped
6-10 potatoes...(I had a few and they were not very big, the were washed and skins stayed on) chopped roughly
whole nutmeg ( use a microplane or super fine grater to grate)
500ml chicken stock
2 onions, diced

Melt butter in big saucepan, fry garlic, leeks, onions until softened, add potatoes and stock, and nutmeg bring to the boil then turn down to a gentle simmer, once all cooked, about 20 mins, blend like a crazy lady with your stick blender and enjoy!!!!!

Oh to make this even more delicious, a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese after blending makes this TO DIE FOR!!!!!

I will add pictures later..... its a school night and I am tired!

happy cooking

Leonie xx

Thursday, May 17, 2012

donna's/leonie's pesto meatballs

Right the originality of this recipe definately belongs to Donna Hay, Simple Dinners..... It is soo good and such a quick life saving meal for any busy family.... I will post the original recipe then at the end add my alternative...

500g mince
3/4 cup store bought pesto
3 slice good bread (i use sour dough)
1/4 cup  milk
tub bocconccini
1/2 cup pitted sicilian olives
2 tubs cherry/baby roma tomatoes
2 cloves Garlic
olive oil

Soak the bread in milk and squeeze. In a bowl mix mince, minced garlic,  bread, pesto to make smooth mince mixture. (the more you mix the more elastic your balls will be... honetly its a good thing!) using a 1/4 cup measure make meatballs, place in an oven proof  pan and fry meatballs until just brown on outside, scatter around tomatoes and olives, place in oven for 15 minutes at 180c. Add scattered bocconccini to pan bake for further 10 minutes.

simply serve with crusty bread and enjoy.... sooo good!!!!

now for my variation.... I have been sick with the flu for a week or more so I have been cheating with my meal plan.... I also am a crazy busy full time working mum that has busy kids and I need solutions for yummy dinners that are quick, easy and taste GREAT! Now I love anything in the slow cooker but my hubby and boys are not as keen on the ol'stew.... so I have been playing/searching for great slow cooker recipes because this baby saves my bacon weekly!

now I made these meatballs at 6 in the morning, only they were a little different,

I mixed
500g mince
3//4 cup pesto
1 diced spanish onion
I mixed all of these then placed 1/2 jar passata sauce in base of my slow cooker, followed by meatballs, followed by rest of passata mixed with 1 tin diced tomatoes. I scattered 2 good handfull of sicillian olives over the top, set on low and OMG HEAVEN!!!!!! oh I got home at 5pm and turned it off... was so good and easy.

I served this with some Barilla pasta and freshly grated parmesan, everyone in my house was HAPPY!!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

One pot cheats roast chicken.....

Now I am busy, we are all busy, and feeding growing boys is difficult this much I know.... keeping everyone's taste buds happy is just as hard (I am the worst to please). I am always after that something different... you know it reaches to the front, sides and back of the palate, keeps it all happy.....

well, I spend, as most that know me well, way TOO much time in recipe books, online looking at food and recipes and on god forbid I say it out loud Facebook!!!! well in my 'spare' time I have found some wonderful blogs that I read for so many different reasons, I rarely comment, I rarely can think of witty things to say, some of these people make me look like a saint that swears very very little!!! but hey those reading that know me too well, a truckie and I have way more in common that just taste in bad driving music!!!!

well on my prowl of the internet I have stumbled upon one of the prettiest houses oh I mean blogs.... Sarah, I also love the ever funny beth . These ladies cook like me, so its only fair that the originality of the following recipe goes to sarah.....

Now for this recipe I have sourced one of my favourite pots... now I love cookware that should be NO secret and I have tonnes but I just have never had the cash to buy the real deal stuff, so when I happened to be shoppping in  a chain store last year and stumbled upon a copy of a pan I had been drooling over for less that half the price I snatched that baby up!!! I had just bought the big kahuna in red (oh baby its the real deal!!)... so anyway this pot is used 6 out of 7 nights I kid you not!!!! if you get your hands on this you will never look back!! I can only imagine what the real kahuna would be like....ahhhhhh dreaming of my happy place  with a variety of colours at my very finger tips..... (have to admit this online store is a saved favourite in my browser....click here to see.

Here is my baby.... I bought it here, love the new latte colour.... and of course the RED!

Now as for the recipe...hmmmm thats the whole point of the blog....

now this looks as easy as it is...honestly a roast on the table 50 minutes after getting home from work!!! I dice/chop may be more accurate any veges I have, here I have used potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potato, red onions, garlic, corn, and zucchini.

First step is to add the onion, garlic, and root veges to the pan splash with a good lug (but not too much) olive oil and bake for 30 mins in a hot oven (200c), when the timer goes off

seriously just wanted to show off my cool timer..... hmmmm may just collect them all!!!
take out of the oven and bury the chicken thighs into the veges, add some fresh thyme sprigs, and the 'softer veges' eg zucchini, corn etc.... I add1/2 cup of chicken stock as well, just helps with the moisture and sauce at the end... (if I am drinking a glass of wine or a bottle is open I will also splash some in at this stage also) put it all back into the oven for a further 20 mins or until everything is cooked...

seriously thats it,..... I remove the chicken and veges and plate up then over a medium heat I put the pan on and reduce the sauce to a gravy, pour some on the top and EAT!!!

seriously never a complaint and it never tastes the same..... and there are NEVER left overs!

Ps. I use at least half a head of garlic

pps... seriously love that I wrote 'if' I drink wine!!!! hahahahhaa of course I AM drinking wine!!!!

happy cooking xx

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My hotchpotch savoury muffins

These muffins are a staple in the boys lunch boxes.... There are always some in the freezer, in the colder months they are great for work with soup, just adding that something missing thing I get from soup at times (to be honest I zap them in the microwave for 10 secs then they transform back into the fresh warm muffin straight out of the oven...smell and all) As I have always preferred savoury to sweet these or variations of these would have to be my favourite type of muffin.....

The savoury muffin base is:

3 cups self raising flour
1 Teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 cup of tasty cheddar, pizza cheese mix (or sometimes a mix of parmesan if you dare.... and I DARE!!)

That is the basic mix, now I add whatever is in the fridge, my usual suspects are Sundried tomatoes (yes they are cool and soooo NOT out of fashion, why people ever gave up on these is beyond me they are simply YUM), oven roasted capsicum (for these two I alwas have jars of 'always Fresh' in the fridge). I also add any cold meats hamm, salami, prosciutto(I dice and fry mine), herbs (I love cheese and chives!) pineapple works if it is well drained, to add more of a pizza flair you can add 2 tbs of tomato paste, eshallots diced are good too.... the list is seriously endless and limited only by your fridge and pantry ingredients!

Mix the basic mix until just combined, add all other ingredients mix til evenly stired through, using an icecream scoop add to lined muffin tine and bake for 25-30 minutes at 180

These babies are delicious warm straight out of the oven....


happy cooking xx

Saturday, May 12, 2012

she makes cakes part 2......

ok seriously this post could be called this woman is crazy, has too much time on her hands or hmmmmm maybe she just never grew up..... ok I love to throw a party, it makes me smile from the inside out....I want my boys to know that they are uniquely special to me and their birthday is a time of absolute reflection on the wonderful people that they are and how I just love being their mum....We have had bumpy roads my boys and I  so I am reminded every birthday that every year is special and to be honest when we make to another number, I somethimes sigh with relief that we made.....(insert crash & burn and cry like a baby... depending on the child.... those that have ridden this journey with me know exactly who I am talking about....)

well the crazy parties started I guess with Lukes 'spooky' themed party, it honestly was to die for!!!boom boom. I had been very fortunate to meet a wonderful friend Steph, who was in Canberra on posting from the US of A!! she had so many decorations it was very easy to get out of hand... now I have to confess while this party was BRILLIANT the cake was less than impressive but hey it was original!

so here are some party pics...

this is my lightweight trying to pop a balloon.... if only I had the same issues!!!!!
The cake was a simple and basic chocolate cake in the shape of a ghost, I then covered the cake in vanilla icecream and froze the lot...While I think its the ugliest thing on earth there was not one complaint from kids or mums!!!

Next up is Alex's 5th birthday, it was bright fun and cool.... He had chosen an 'under the sea' theme, now this theme would happen to be the very first theme of my teaching career... so I had a few ideas.... but it was still fun to do and as always the kids had a blast so mission accomplished.... I LOVE this cake, he is so COOL and effective and seriously the simplest cake ever!

here are some pics

the birthday boy!

the party space...

Next was Lukes 7th, it was a fairly low key affair in terms of friends as we had just moved but it was HUGE in terms it was the First ever birthday with family...

 obviously a Ben ten theme....Luke desperately wanted to go to Movie world for his birthday, but we still had a small celebration!!! hahahha My family is BIG!!!!nothing is small!!! Lucky enough we could have it at Nanna and Grandad's after luke begging, he really wanted a 'pool' party..... who am I to deny a birthday wish I love them!!! our wonderful Canberra friends helped him celebrate too.... Now in my family there are a LOT of end of Feb birthdays so the cake was extra big and there was plenty for everyone, Luke felt very special to share with them

the Omnitrix

 next up was Alex of course, now this birthday was a party that will go down in my partying history as one of the greatest!!!! it was a Star wars party for my star wars mad boy!!!!! super fun had by all.....it was a celebration of all that the year promised and all we had all been through...we all needed this celebration.....and celebrate we DID!

We had jedi training, light sabers, jedi costumes I sewed for all the guests, destruction of the millenium falcom (water balloons) and Darth Vadar even paid a visit....

When I did these parties it was long before I found great party sites like the little big company and lily chic events and so many more, so I scrounged spotlight, woolies and the internet for ideas and accessories........ now I have found these girls my planning days have come to a screaming hault in the fear that I could never be creative enough,.....BUT I promise I spend hours drooling over their shops and products and have been grateful in winning a few prizes seriously check these ladies out!!! They are lovely and there are loads more like them... this my friends would be a dream job, I would be in my element.... but would need some design and cake decorating lessons first....

now here are some other cakes and goodies I have baked....they look ok and are fairly easy....I am not going to post instructions but if you want them ask and I may just do it....

 my birthday cake, vanilla bean sponge, chocolate ganache, with chocolate shards.... made with my gorgeous friend Jane celebrating my birthday, Marks and Tracey's, the Canberra crew together again xxx funny thing is I don't really like chocolate but LOVE making this cake!!! oh of course its accompanied with a COSMPOLITAN!!!!

The rainbow cake, an experiment from a picture - to picture perfect... LOVE LOVE LOVE everything about this cake! its so ME!

my gorgeous Niece Lola, just love that little chicky to bits xxxxxx

well thats the signifigant cakes of 2010...... seriously there is a cake every other week these posts take ages and life is crazy busy..... there will be more... be warned!!!!

happy cooking

Leonie xx